module specification

SS4021 - Knowledge, Culture and Education (2021/22)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2021/22
Module title Knowledge, Culture and Education
Module level Certificate (04)
Credit rating for module 30
School School of Social Professions
Total study hours 300
0 hours Assessment Preparation / Delivery
210 hours Guided independent study
90 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 60%   2000 word essay on the meaning and purpose of education. Students are expected to draw on some of the theories of cultur
Coursework 40%   A group presentation on either the social impact of developments in knowledge technologies or the challenges facing educ
Running in 2021/22
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Year North Tuesday Afternoon
Year (Spring and Summer) North Tuesday Morning

Module summary

This module will introduce you to various ideas and theories about the role education plays in society. It will ask you to think about the meaning and purpose of education in the light of these ideas. In particular we will focus upon questions about the transmission of knowledge and culture. And we will ask what the relation between knowledge, culture and education should be, especially in our own rapidly changing, highly technological, multi-cultural society.

The module aims:
● To introduce you to the study of education as a social phenomenon and encourage you to question its role in contemporary society
● To examine critically the idea of culture and the role it plays in social and educational theory
● To analyse what we mean by knowledge and to explore the ways in which it gets established
● To study the historical impact of various developments in the representation, storage and transmission of knowledge, such as writing and number systems, printing, and digital media
● To reflect upon the future of education in the 21st century given the rapid advances in IT, AI and robotics as well as the environmental challenges facing humanity


The weekly programme is structured around a series of questions for study and reflection:
1. What do we mean by culture? Where does the idea come from? What is the relation between culture and society?
2. What counts as knowledge? Who gets to decide? Which knowledge gets taught?
3. How is knowledge preserved and transmitted? Are the mechanisms neutral or do they play a part in the construction of knowledge? What impact do new media have upon society?
4. How do you educate for an uncertain and possibly apocalyptic future?

Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity

Learning in this module is transacted through a combination of lectures, seminar discussions and workshops as well as independent (but guided) study and reading.
Selected key readings are available to students via the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). Students are expected to read in advance of classroom sessions and to regularly reflect on their reading via online tasks and discussions.
Regular feedback (formal and informal) on assessment tasks is provided to enhance students’ learning.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the module, students will be able to:
1. Demonstrate a capacity for critical reflection on theories and ideas about the relation between education, culture and society
2. Show understanding of arguments about the nature of knowledge, where it comes from and how it gets established, as well as its relation to ideology and culture
3. Participate in debates about the impact on society of crucial innovations in the representation, storage and transmission of knowledge such as writing, number systems, printing and digital media
4. Discuss the implications of rapid technological change and the challenges of sustainability for education in the 21st century

Assessment strategy

Assessment is by way of an essay and a class presentation – the essay allows students to explore the ideas they have been introduced to in semester 1 and introduces them to the practice of critical and discursive writing.
The presentation allows students to explore the themes covered in semester 2 using a variety of media and helps them gain skills in public presentation.


Core texts:
Adorno, T. & Horkheimer, M. (2002) The Culture Industry, Dialectic of Enlightenment: Philosophical Fragments, trans. by E. Jephcott. Stanford: Stanford University Press, pp. 94-136
Althusser, L. (1971). Lenin and Philosophy and other essays. London: NLB.
Arnold, M. (1869) Culture and Anarchy. Oxford: OUP
Burbules, N. & Torres, C. (eds) (2000) Globalization and Education: Critical Perspectives. New York: Routledge
Burr, V. (2003). Social Constructionism. 2nd Edition. East Sussex, New York: Routledge.
Ford, M. (2015) The Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future. New York: Basic Books
Foucault, M., (1986). The Foucault Reader, ed. by P. Rabinow. London: Penguin
Hall, S. (ed.) (1997) Representation: Cultural representations and signifying practices. London: Sage.
Hospers, J. (1997) An Introduction to Philosophical Analysis, 4th ed. London: Routledge.
McLellan, D. (1995) Ideology. Buckingham: Open University Press
Plato (1995) Phaedrus, trans. by A. Nehamas & P. Woodruff. Indianapolis; Cambridge: Hackett
Williams, R. (1976). Keywords: A Vocabulary of Culture and Society. London: Fontana
Williams, R. (2011). Culture is ordinary. IN: Szeman, I. & Kaposy, T. (eds) Cultural Theory: An Anthology. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, pp. 53-59.
Young, M. F. D. (2008). Bringing Knowledge Back In: From Social Constructivism to Social Realism in the Sociology of Education. London: Routledge.